We continue our look back at the classic albums of rock lore with Mountain and its 1971 album, Nantucket Sleighride. Mountain was a rock band that formed in 1969 in Long Island, New York and consisted of vocalist/guitarist Leslie West, bassist and vocalist Felix Pappalardi, keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer Corky Laing.
Nantucket Sleighride was the sophomore effort of Mountain following the debut The Climbing in 1970. The album originally featured nine tracks viz. “Don’t Look Around”, “Taunta (Sammy’s Tune)”, “Nantucket Sleighride (For Owen Coffin)”, “You Can’t Get Away”, “Tired Angels (For J.M.H.)”, “The Animal Trainer And The Toad”, “My Lady”, “Travelin’ In The Dark (For E.M.P.)” and “The Great Train Robbery”.
On Nantucket Sleighride, Mountain cemented their hard rock style that was derived primarily from the psychedelic rock and blues rock sub-genres prevalent in the late 1960s. The songwriting credits were mainly concentrated on Pappalardi and West, with significant lyrical contributions from Pappalardi’s wife Gail Collins.
The standout song was the title track “Nantucket Sleighride (For Owen Coffin)” which had traces of early progressive rock embedded into its dreamy psychedelic tone. The song itself is a fictionalised account of a true story of cannibalism in the whaling industry of the 19th century. Between Pappalardi’s song concept and Collins’ lyrics, the song took shape to become probably Mountain’s most popular track.
West, who recently passed away at age 75, contributed bluesy riffs and licks throughout the album and his distinctive guitar work is a hallmark of Mountain’s sound. Pappalardi’s life came to a tragic end when in 1983 he was shot and killed by Collins.
Nantucket Sleighride, like The Climbing before it, was a commercial success for Mountain, achieving gold status in the USA. The band would break up a year later and would go through various reformations in the years up to Pappalardi’s untimely demise but never quite replicated the popularity of its early years.
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